The Enigma of Arrival
Once upon a time, not so long ago, arriving from an international destination into an Indian airport was a rude awakening. The stench of stale urine assaulted the nostrils as one disembarked and entered the terminal building. Passengers had to evade large puddles that dotted the uneven linoleum floor — a result of leaking air-conditioning units that spewed and sputtered water in a heroic but unsuccessful attempt to cool the muggy environs.
Everywhere, asbestos sheets sagged dangerously from tubelight-illuminated ceilings, threatening to plummet any moment and concuss some unsuspecting passenger. The nauseating toilets were always clogged and invariably, the floors were wet and sticky. The baggage trolleys had a mind of their own and refused to travel in the direction you intended them to go. Duty Free shops were either non-existent or a joke. Jet-lagged passengers had to lug heavy hand luggage through labyrinthine corridors to eventually reach the immigration counter and then join serpentine queues to be allowed entry into the country.
The tattered luggage carousel took its time to creak into action. All this while you fervently prayed that the airline hadn’t sent your suitcase to Botswana instead of Bombay. Luggage porters shiftily sidled up to you and sotto voce demanded a hundred dollars as a fee to clear your baggage through customs. When you explained that you weren’t importing anything dodgy they glowered at you and huffily strode away, annoyed that you had wasted their valuable
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